Bipartisan support for open records chief

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HARRISBURG -- The term of the state's Office of Open Records director expired last month, and Gov. Tom Corbett has not yet indicated whether he will reappoint Terry Mutchler, despite bipartisan calls for her to remain as the state's top open-government official.

Asked about Ms. Mutchler's appointment, Mr. Corbett said, "I'm not even anywhere near making a decision on that at this point."

Ms. Mutchler, an attorney and former journalist, said she had not heard from administration officials, despite statements from Republican and Democratic senators that they would like to see her continue in that role.

"Terry Mutchler has turned the Office of Open Records into one of the most respected agencies of its type in the nation," said a statement from Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who championed the creation of the state's 2008 Right to Know Law.

"When we enacted the new Open Records Law in 2008, I knew that the first executive director would be critical to determining its success or failure. I'm very pleased that the law has become an overwhelming success, due in large part to Terry's dedicated leadership. Filling the position of executive director requires a person with unimpeachable integrity, unwavering fairness, and a strong work ethic -- all qualities which Terry possesses."

Similarly, Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, issued a statement of support for Ms. Mutchler.

"She demonstrated capable leadership and I have been impressed with her as the workload of the new office has grown over the years. I have every confidence in her abilities and I believe that she deserves every consideration to continue to lead the mission of the Office of Open Records."

Bipartisan calls of support for a gubernatorial appointee are fairly unusual; in the past week, calls for Ms. Mutchler's reappointment have continued from House members, other Republican and Democratic Senators, and the state's Democratic Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale.

A quasi-judicial agency, the Office of Open Records enforces and oversees the state's Right to Know Law. If an agency denies a records request from an individual, that person can appeal to the office. In 2013, individuals, prison inmates, businesses, members of the media and others filed 2,478 appeals with the office. The office also conducts training sessions about the Right to Know Law.


Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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